Splice News Trends: Facebook burns, Voice of China launches and Mediacorp’s flag bungle

In his latest media roundup, The Splice Newsroom’s Alan Soon looks at the storm of #deletefacebook, China's newest propaganda machine and Mediacorp's diplomatic row

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#WTZ? Almost a whole week went by before Zuckerberg finally broke his silence on how Cambridge Analytica collected user data from Facebook without user consent. About $50 billion was wiped off the company’s stock in the first two days (it’s recovered a little since). But everyone was asking — where was Zuck? His response, when it finally came, was standard FB: We messed up. We should do better. But he also went on to detail steps that FB will take to limit the amount of data app developers can pull to just your name, your email address, and your profile photo. Read his statement here.

Zuckerberg gave a wide-ranging interview to Recode where he talked about some of his assumptions and where he could have been wrong. “I was maybe too idealistic on the side of data portability, that it would create more good experiences — and it created some — but I think what the clear feedback from our community was that people value privacy a lot more.”

U.S. lawmakers still want Zuck to testify. “Mea culpas are no substitute for questions and answers under oath.” One key question to ask: Apart from Cambridge Analytica, how many other “bad actors” are there who still have your data?

A UK parliamentary committee also wants Zuckerberg to appear to explain how Facebook gathers, stores and uses personal data. The committee says Facebook has “consistently understated” the risk of data leakage.

Earlier this week, before Zuck spoke up, the internal conversations were led by the deputy general counsel.According to Bloomberg, Paul Grewal played the victim card: Facebook had been lied to; CA didn’t delete the data like they said they would; users freely gave up their data. Employees asked repeatedly: even if CA was in line with policy and that FB played by its own rules at the time, did anyone consider ethics?

If you mess up the environment in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency goes after you (just ask BP how that works). And in this case with Facebook, it may be time to consider a Digital Protection Agency.

So while Facebook burned this week, Google announced a $300 million plan to support the news industry. It’s not giving money outright, but it’s adding products to the industry. I see what you did there. Timing is everything, isn’t it?

Wtf, YouTube Kids. You filtered out porn and hate. But you’re ok with conspiracy videos. “No system is perfect and sometimes we miss the mark.”


Telegram lost a bid in Russia’s Supreme Court to stop security services from getting access to its data. The country’s spy agency wants Telegram to hand over its encryption keys. Telegram now has about two weeks to provide access or it may be blocked in Russia.

Chinese hackers are superb. That’s why China doesn’t want them participating in “white hat” (the good guys) hacking competitions around the world where they would help find exploits. “If cybersecurity is a battlefield, then loopholes are munitions.”

China is merging 3 state TV and radio stations to create… wait for it… Voice of China. Not imaginative, but you get it. Part of Xi’s plan to create “flagship propaganda”.

Those two Reuters reporters sitting in jail in Myanmar for investigating the murder of Rohingya? They’ve just crossed the 100-day mark. And the courts still haven’t decided whether to charge them.


Media future-ologist Amy Webb unleashed a tweetstorm making an urgent appeal for media funders to get their shit together. She says donors need to start putting money behind projects to pilot new ideas. She also wants j-schools to start teaching MBA-type classes. I share the same worries; I’ve long complained that too much donor money has been going toward funding the “craft” of journalism, which is important, but fails to address the fundamental problem of the industry today, which is building a diverse set of sustainable media startups. Let’s talk bidniz, people.

It’s 2018. BuzzFeed is betting that appointment viewing can work. They’re trying a universal windowing strategy for one of its shows. They think they can get people to watch them on their site, YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, Hulu, or Roku at the same time. Good luck.


SPH Magazines cut 79 jobs as it merged its custom and contract publishing units. Its sales and marketing teams will also be consolidated.


Singapore’s state broadcaster found itself at the centre of a diplomatic incident. It put Taiwan’s flag over a map of China. Classy. “We have sincerely apologised to the embassy of the People’s Republic of China and the Taipei Representative Office in Singapore.”

Mongolia launched its first local video streaming service! On the menu for ORI TV: The Voice Mongolia, Mongolia’s Got Talent, and Shark Tank Mongolia.

Quote of the Week

“It is time. #deletefacebook.”
— Brian Acton’s tweet. That same guy who co-founded WhatsApp and sold it to Facebook for $19 billion. Billion. That guy. (Meanwhile, the other co-founder is putting out pro-Trump posts. On Facebook.)


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